I’m no longer 18. I can feel the difference. After decades of celebrating my 21st birthday, the strain on the bones, tendons, joints, muscles and ligaments is obvious. Every time I submit an ID document or fill in a form, the fact that I’m from the previous century hits me hard. With my bank balance smaller than my slim waist, my retirement seems too close for comfort. So how do I cope with the huge void that is created as my youth creeps away to give way to greyness, baldness and presbyopia.
* My friend zips around in a BMW as he takes us to his beach facing holiday apartment. And me? My trusty Hyundai Xcent is smaller, but has taken me through beach roads, highways, wilderness, hills and city streets. My C grade hospital-provided quarters has a great mountain view with no shared walls. Peaceful!
* What is a man without a Royal Enfield bullet bike. But…..No cash, no quads means no bullet and no thud-thud-vrrooom. This however saves me the embarrassment of stopping at traffic lights and slowly keeling over to one side as bullet weight overpowers my quads muscle power. So my 100cc TVS Wego will do – once I get that battery changed and the bike serviced.
* Dad jokes are no longer acceptable at home and at my workplace. My son detests them and my daughter doesn’t care – unless I pair the humour with funny faces and weird sounds. I fear i may get lynched if I try them anymore. So I now target my humour at my ever forgiving church. Gently interspersed into worship sessions, WhatsApp messages and broadcasts, they still draw a few laughs. What good is a church that does not forgive and accept a man with all his defects? My Church rocks!! Forgiveness flows so freeeeeeely
* Turn grey, turn green: Suddenly plants seem to be a good idea. Not eating them – I still prefer meat (as legally permissible). Every morning, watching the greys on my head in the mirror gives way to the sight of a bright splash of green (and some yellow and brown and even black) on my narrow balcony as I see the plants fighting for survival. One in ten actually survives the onslaught of my brown thumb. This is the exact opposite of the grey survival rate where ten in one survives…. whatever that means.
* I ordered a set of badminton racquets for JJ and me. I ended up with tennis elbow even before it arrived. I tried jogging. Two sessions of energetic concrete running and I was looking up the anatomy of the knee to see what the source of the pain was. Every time I meet my Orthopedician friend with a pain or strain, he is very curt and to the point. “These are usual degenerative changes that come with age, Benji”. My fitness suffers and my cholesterol soars.
Now let’s get to the numbers. All amounts in INR (Indian Rupees)
Beach house – 8 digits,
BMW – 7 digits,
Royal Enfield Himalayan – 6 digits,
iPhone X – 5 digits,
Cajon – 4 digits,
Cycle – 4 digits,
Pull-up bar – 3 digits,
Coffee beans – 2 digits.
So then the fervent prayers and negotiations started with furtive glances of bank statements. Am I worth it? Let’s get digital:
8, 7, 6 – eliminated at first glance. C grade quarters with mountain view, Xcent and Wego get the job done as mentioned above.
5. Moto X still has an X in it. Maybe I won’t notice the rest of the name. Done!
4. JJ has a good sense of beat and rhythm. Maybe he needs to get into percussion. Trip to Bangalore, music store visit. Pearl Cajon. YouTube Tutorials. Done!
4. Cycle – too dangerous for Vellore roads. Hmmm… Maybe AnaPops would love to be pushed around the KPTR campus in a tricycle. She’s 2 years and would dig one. Orange is her favorite color this month. Done!
3. “J – Do you want to show off your muscle power on a pull up bar?”
2. “I’ll make sure you wake up and smell the coffee every morning honey”
My 7 year old leaky Breville 800ES still brews a strong coffee every morning as espresso flows out of the portafilter and fills the morning kitchen with the fresh smell of roasted, brewed coffee while the kitchen counter overflows with water spewed out of all its other parts. Way better than those instant coffee mornings! All this at about Rs. 10 a serving. Ordered online every month.
7 am: So here I am! Sipping freshly brewed coffee on a green(ish) balcony watching the sun rise behind majestic mountains. The fresh morning Vellore air mixed with a large dose of silica dust is dangerously addictive. I shower a little water on the pots and wish my plants for the morning – for some of them it will be their last, but they don’t know that. They don’t need to know that.
6 pm: And here I am again! Pushing my giggly daughter in her bright orange tricycle through the KPTR campus roads to the library. We watch the moon. We make funny sounds as she struggles to understand that joke about the stars and the moon. We stare at the cobwebs on my parked Wego. We dust the Xcent and fish out an old toy from the back seat of the Xcent where it disappeared during last weeks 500 km road trip. We then fly up to home in the lift. I walk underneath the unused pull-up bar a dozen times and finally sit on the cajon to belt out a beat to the dagger-like stares of family. Ten little fingers sacrifice homework for a keyboard jingle and 2 little feet dance to the unrhythm. The cajon shudders as it remembers it’s first nervous public appearance in Scudder Audi a few weeks ago. The thin line between music and noise is crossed many times
8 pm: A nine year old shovels carefully prepared food into the mouth of a 2 year old to the sights of Cocomelon on my X4 and apparently that is enough to fill the home with laughter.
9 pm: As I start preparing my worship set for Sunday morning, I inject in the usual quota of dad jokes inbetween songs. The lovely aroma of dinner fades away and the gentle voices of 2 children praying end in a chorus of Amens. My Moto X4 plays soft music as little eyes close slowly.
As my degenerating ligaments and tendons beg for rest, we talk about our twelve years together. It seems like it was just yesterday that we kissed for the first time, and today our hearts beat next to each other for the millionth time. My sore muscles stop complaining.
Age is just a number, and for most of our lives it’s 2 digits. The only thing that can’t be numbered are life’s little blessings. And the only way to realise that it is to actually try counting them.
Yes….. I’m not longer 18.